His name will for­ever be linked with fast Fords, and this month we re­flect on the Ford hero that was Car­roll Shelby…

Fast Ford - - Intro -

This month we salute Ford leg­end, Car­roll Shelby.

Leg­ends don’t come much big­ger than Car­roll Shelby. For many, his name will al­ways be most closely as­so­ci­ated with the AC Co­bra; for oth­ers, it’s the Shelby Mus­tang. The Co­bra story is an in­ter­est­ing one, as the model started as the AC Ace, a slen­der road­ster with a Bris­tol straight-six. Shelby wrote to AC in 1961 and asked if they’d mod­ify an Ace for him to ac­cept a V8 with the idea of sell­ing them in the USA, and AC agreed on the pro­viso that Shelby source the en­gines. Hav­ing been knocked back by Chevro­let, he found Ford to be more than keen to pro­vide en­gines for some­thing that could ri­val the Corvette – and they had the shiny new 221ci Wind­sor V8 ready to go! The pro­to­types worked, so AC started ship­ping fin­ished but en­gine-less cars to Car­roll’s plant in Los An­ge­les, where he and his team fit­ted the larger 260ci (and later 289, 390, and 427ci) V8s, and an icon was born.

Shelby Amer­i­can started build­ing light­weight road-racer Mus­tangs in the mid-1960s – ini­tially the GT350, fol­lowed by the GT500, and the name was later reprised from 2005. Shelby Mus­tangs are fear­some per­form­ers and com­mand eye-wa­ter­ing money among col­lec­tors.

Born in 1923, Car­roll Shelby suf­fered heart prob­lems from the age of 7 that dogged him his en­tire life – it was some­what in­cred­i­ble that he made it to the grand age of 89. He cer­tainly never let health is­sues slow him down; cut­ting his teeth in the US Army Air Corps and serv­ing in World War II as a flight in­struc­tor and test pi­lot, he went on to work with oil wells and, sur­pris­ingly, as a poul­try farmer, be­fore be­com­ing a rac­ing driver in the 1950s. He com­peted in For­mula One and at Le Mans, and even held 16 speed records at Bon­neville. This was the foun­da­tion upon which he based his pitch to AC to mar­ket a V8-en­gined Ace as the Co­bra and, re­tir­ing from driv­ing in 1959, he set him­self up as a con­struc­tor – some­thing which suited him very well, hav­ing in­put with Dodge and Oldsmo­bile as well as Ford’s GT40 and the Day­tona Coupé… and, of course, those Co­bras and Mus­tangs. A mo­tor­sport icon, and a real Ford hero.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.